Op-ed in today's San Bernardino Sun
Edison opposes solar for low-income communities
Deborah Blake posted : 09/13/2012 03:50:56 PM PDT
Many residents of the Inland Empire, including myself, have recently had a visit from a representative from Southern California Edison or a contracted company hired by them. These folks go door-to-door promoting energy efficiency, and offer low-cost solutions for improving efficiency in your home, such as distributing compact fluorescent lamps and replacing weather-stripping in doorways. They also provide information about rebates for completing energy efficient home upgrades, as well as savings programs for "income qualified" customers.
In a time where we have seen record-setting heat and scheduled blackouts, Edison should be doing everything possible to address our energy needs and provide energy efficiency solutions for all of its customers. Unfortunately, they are not.
While Edison was busy using dollars from California utility ratepayers in sending these contractors to our homes, they were also hiring lobbyists in Sacramento to kill a very important solar bill, Assembly Bill 1990. The bill would have had a tremendously positive impact in lower-income communities of the Inland Empire.
A.B.1990, the "Solar for All Bill," would have created small-scale rooftop solar projects throughout California, targeting lower-income communities with the highest asthma rates, affected by pollution and some of the highest unemployment rates. It would have brought 190 megawatts of clean energy into our already polluted neighborhoods, and would have created much needed local green jobs, ultimately benefiting consumers and the local economy. According to Edison's website, it "committed to helping customers use less electricity and save money." If this is its commitment, then why would it oppose AB 1990, which would have helped its customers to do just that ?
AB 1990 would've benefited families like mine. Workers like my brother or my nephew who are both unemployed could very easily have benefited from the newly created green jobs that would have come as a result of the legislation.
Frankly, air conditioning is a luxury in our home because we can't afford high electricity costs. The use of solar energy in my home could have given us some relief in our energy bills. Solar energy shouldn't be a luxury. It should be accessible to everyone.
Edison tells its customers, "You have the power to save energy, money and the environment." Yet Edison had the power and an excellent opportunity to help its Inland Empire customers save energy, money and the environment in a big way by supporting the "Solar for All" bill.
Instead, in an effort to protect its bottom line and keep us tied to dirty sources of energy, Edison joined forces with other major California utility companies and successfully killed A.B.1990. Why would the utility do this when it claims to be concerned about its customers, clean energy and the environment ?
Residents of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties should know that Southern California Edison addresses these "customer concerns" on their own terms for their own benefit.
What Southern California Edison did in fighting against creating solar projects and the green jobs that would have resulted in our community from implementation of the bill was just plain wrong.
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Deborah Blake lives in Moreno Valley and is a lifelong resident of the Inland Empire. She is a volunteer with the Sierra Club